3 Mindfulness Meditation tips for stress relief by Lana Heintjes
A little while ago I sent out a survey to figure out what the top issues in relationships are. The number one issue that came up was stress. Before I began my yoga and meditation practice, my life was filled with stress and anxiety. What calmed me down was my yoga and meditation practice. Please understand that ridding yourself of stress does not happen overnight. It takes consistent practice to find lasting progress, although you may find some relief in the moment as well. Here are 3 very simple, easy-to-do tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Slow your breath down for 3 minutes. Some people find it helpful to inhale and exhale for 4 counts each, to set the tempo. If you have taken my yoga or meditation class before, you have probably heard me say “Now I’m breathing in, now I’m breathing out.” That phrase is inspired by Thich Naht Hahn, an outstanding spiritual leader. I recommend going easy on yourself when your mind does wander, which it will. Allow yourself to notice your thoughts as they pass, then, turn the volume of your thoughts down and feel the soothing sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. You can set a timer for yourself so that you don’t need to pay attention to the time.
Remember… “Now I’m breathing in, now I’m breathing out.”
Tip #2: Take “six second pauses” to temporarily suspend activity, disengage from auto-pilot and drop into the present moment. It can be whenever you happen to think of it or you can set cues for yourself. For example, take a pause before you start washing dishes or the moment you get home. When you remember it, just pause and be aware of your body as well as your breath for 6 seconds. You can say a calming phrase to yourself, like “calm mind, relaxed body.” Inhale a slow breath and when you exhale let your body soften. This repetitive practice from Marsha Lucas’ Rewire Your Brain for Love, re-patterns your brain to ground you and strengthen the mind-body connection. What I love about this tip, is you can do it almost anywhere, anytime.
Tip #3: When you are first starting out, I recommend practicing these tips when you are not super stressed out. If you practice these tips before they are really needed for stress relief, you will have a powerful toolbox in the future. After establishing these tips into your daily life your brain will know exactly what to do when you encounter stress again.